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Health Soc Work. 2006 Aug;31(3):167-79.

The clubhouse as an empowering setting.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.


Attention to psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) practice has expanded in recent years. However, social work research studies on PSR are not numerous. This study focuses on operational characteristics of clubhouses, a major PSR program model, and the organizational attributes (including resource levels) that predict the extent to which the clubhouse constitutes an empowering setting. The authors present data from a statewide sample of 30 clubhouses, annually serving nearly 4,000 consumers (adults with serious mental illnesses), based on interviews of clubhouse directors, on-site observations, and government information sources. Results indicate that users were predominantly male, white, and middle age; about one-third had a major functional disability. There were wide variations in member characteristics as well as in resource levels. In terms of empowerment, this sample of clubs averaged rather low levels of member involvement in governance and operations but seemed to provide members with opportunities and assistance in making their own decisions. The empowerment variables had different predictors, including client characteristics, urban-related characteristics, staffing, and resource levels. Implications for social work practice in PSR settings are discussed.

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